It's safe to say Catherine McNeil's return on the catwalk is the comeback of the season. A large amount of high profile shows, remarkable appearances from New York to Paris, her presence in worldwide fashion capitals last month wasn't unnoticed while her recent editorial work, including the cover of Vogue Australia, leaves us with the idea that there is no smoke without fire. But, beyond the joy to see a well-managed comeback (always a happy event in a business said to go too fast and to waste several models' careers), McNeil's revival comes as the latest proof that fashion is hungry for diversity and the latter is more subtle than the dubious concepts of "ethnic" or "plus-size" models.

Mid-length hair, tattoos from ear to toe, slim and slender yet womanly curves... Catherine McNeil's look doesn't exactly suit the general idea one can have of a model's physical appearance. And that's a good thing to see a young woman make it successful against the commonly accepted standards. If there is a lesson to learn from this late breakthrough, we should also remember how she started her international career, a little more than five years ago. She arrived on stage all of a sudden, launched by an exclusive collaboration with photographer Mario Testino that translated into two major covers: one for V Magazine and another for Vogue Paris.

At that time, she was labeled as classical beauty and was supposed to embody the return of the "supermodel" style. Cat had long brown locks and, excuse the pun, cat-like eyes, was a little stiff in her poses or on the runway yet generated some immediate buzz. Many predicted her rise wouldn't last and they kind of quickly thought they were right. Not that she wasn't getting work any longer, but McNeil made the decision to take a break from modeling. In a lot of observers' minds, this simply means the end of a career. Full stop? Not likely...

During her silent days, a few candid shots leaked from her home country's gossip press. The photographs displayed a totally different image from the glamorous and glossy pictures of 2007 published in various editions of Vogue. Short and messy hair, tattos, and she was considered "out of shape", what many would call the perfect look of an "antimodel". Comments (knowledgeable or not) were often negative and the conclusion was that her career was in a dead end with almost zero possibility to go back to her top model status.

Thank to the efforts of her agencies, Catherine went back to modeling and the best of the story is the way she did it without dumping her new look -or true look- and, step by step, reached back her former status this season and has all cards in hand to move beyond. Walking for Saint Laurent, Paco Rabanne, Hermès, Kenzo, Isabelle Marant and Helmut Lang at the same moment she graced the covers of Vogue Australia and Numéro, the second launch of her career is no other than a second breakthrough. With more opportunities to come and a lovely lesson to learn from it.

CREDITS: Numéro / Ph: Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Vogue Australia / Ph: Benny Horne, Saint Laurent & Isabelle Marant catwalks (Stylebistro)